Windswept Knidos: city of Love & Arabic graffiti

Some ancient sites seem to have it all: a spectacular setting, two harbors, a photo-bombing lighthouse, and a few good stories to finish it all off. Knidos fits into this category. It’s the kind of place that makes you forget about the world, even if only for a brief moment. Situated right at the edge of the beautiful Datça peninsula, flirting with the Mediterranean and the Aegean, Knidos (or Cnidus) is an active excavation site. It is the end of a scenic ride and the start of an exciting journey exploring the ruins of this once glorious city. Read why people call it the city of Love, and why there is a church with ‘Arabic graffiti’.

Knidos' Lighthouse And The Fortifications At Cape Krio

Knidos’ Lighthouse And The Fortifications At Cape Krio

The Former Military Harbor Seen From Inside The Harbor Heroon

The Former Military Harbor Seen From Inside The Harbor Heroon

Knidos: a dramatic setting

Knidos or Cnidus has always enjoyed a spectacular and strategic setting. Back in the days, the city was stretched out on the terraces of the mainland of the current Datça peninsula, and on the little island opposite to it called Cape Krio. A bridge linked both parts of the city, also serving as a divider between the two harbors. The bridge is gone since nature – with a little help from the Knidians – created an isthmus instead. This narrow piece of land divides the small military harbor on the west side from the commercial port on the east side.

In a way, the commercial harbor hasn’t lost its function, as it is now in use as a popular anchorage stop for sailing fanatics and gulet tours.

A Clear View Of The Divided Harbors

A Clear View Of The Divided Harbors

Knidos, An Active Excavation Site With A View!

Knidos, An Active Excavation Site With A View!

Ancient Cnidus is said to be a colony of Sparta and one of the six cities in Asia Minor’s Caria of Dorian origin. It was surrounded by walls dating back to the 4th century BC, the time of King Mausolos of Halicarnassos (yes, the one from Bodrum), and an extensive necropolis stretching up to 7 km beyond the city. The fortifications to protect the harbors are still visible today.

Detail Of The Fortifications At Knidos' Military Harbor

Detail Of The Fortifications At Knidos’ Military Harbor

Harbor Heroon Seen From Cape Krio

Harbor Heroon Seen From Cape Krio

The city became wealthy by the 6th century BC, and it controlled the entire Datça peninsula by the time that the Persians started expanding their empire somewhere in the 540’s BC. During the 4th century BC, Knidos evolved from rich and influential to a cosmopolitan city and a major metropolis. With that status came famous inhabitants such as the sculptors Skopas and Bryxias who worked on Knidos’ temples such as the Temple of Apollo, which is ruined nowadays.

Click here to visit that other (well-preserved) Temple of Apollo in Didyma

The Impressive Harbor Street And Its Heroon

The Impressive Harbor Street And Its Heroon

Inside The Harbor Street Heroon

Inside The Harbor Street Heroon

The city of Love

It was at that time that the city acquired the famous and controversial statue of Aphrodite by Praxiteles. Controversial? Well yes, the statue was nude. Neighboring city Kos originally commissioned it, but they probably hadn’t realized they should have mentioned they wanted a clothed version of the Goddess. With it, Knidos obtained not only a masterpiece but also a tourist attraction. Sadly, the original work no longer exists.

Ruins Of The Round Temple Terrace Or Tholos

Ruins Of The Round Temple Terrace Or Tholos

Its head was most probably discovered by the American archaeologist Iris Love who – in the summer of ’69 – first unearthed the circular foundations of the Doric Temple of Aphrodite, followed by the discovery of the head the year after that. Publicity wise, things couldn’t have been more perfect, an archaeologist called Love discovering the temple of the Goddess of love, Aphrodite. It put Knidos on the map in a way that even Mick and Bianca Jagger decided to pop over for a visit.

Read more about Iris Love’s excavations in her Preliminary Report of the Excavations at Knidos, 1969

Inscriptions In The Apse Of The Byzantine Church

Inscriptions In The Apse Of The Byzantine Church

Detail Of The Crown Of The Fountain Of Boulakrates

Detail Of The Crown Of The Fountain Of Boulakrates

Famous citizens and a thriving city

Knidos flourished in the Hellenistic era and had a vibrant commercial and economic life, but also a strong cultural, artistic, and academic presence. Its famous school of medicine was solely excelled by the one on rivaling Kos, probably because that was the birthplace of Hippocrates. The city was also home to Euxodus, the famous mathematician and astronomer who even has craters on the Moon and Mars named after him. Who knows if the sundial was his idea? And Sostratus, who built a Terraced Portico in his hometown Knidos, is the architect of the Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

The Sundial With A Dried Branch As A Gnomon

The Sundial With A Dried Branch As A Gnomon

Harbor Heroon At Knidos, Glorious Isn't It?

Harbor Heroon At Knidos, Glorious Isn’t It?

Arabic graffiti and the fall of Knidos

In Roman times, Knidos – as a ‘free’ city – was exempt from paying taxes to Rome, which lead to even more wealth. Still, as was the faith of many other Anatolian coastal cities, Knidos got raided by the Arabs in the 7th century AD. The Arabic inscriptions, or graffiti as some call it, are still visible on the floor of one of the churches. The once glorious city fell further into decay when it suffered a string of pirate attacks and earthquakes, causing its citizens to abandon their city.

More Arabic Inscriptions At The Doric Church

More Arabic Inscriptions At The Doric Church

Arabic Inscriptions At The Doric Church In Knidos

Arabic Inscriptions At The Doric Church In Knidos

5 reasons to visit Knidos

Why should you visit Knidos when most of this once magnificent city still lies in ruins? Aren’t other sites such as Ephesus, Aphrodisias, or Sagalassos a better choice? A lot more structures are indeed restored or rebuilt at these sites. But visiting an ancient site isn’t always about the buildings that are still standing. There’s more to a site than its buildings. Here are 5 reasons to visit Knidos, despite its ruined state:

  • You can pop over from the Bodrum peninsula on the ferry boat. It’s a scenic trip of about 90 minutes before you reach the Datça peninsula. After that, follow the signs to Knidos. Click here for the current timetables or to book your ticket online.
  • The ride alone is worth it. The Datça peninsula is relatively untouched, with lots of beautiful stops and even vineyards, in case you’d like to sample some Turkish wine.
  • Even if you have no interest in history or ancient sites, this place is fantastic, due to its location.
  • Tourists never overrun Knidos, so it is the right choice if you want to avoid the crowds.
  • The sunsets here are epic. Check out our photos in our post about the Datça peninsula.

For practical information, head over to the tabs below.

Standing Atop The Harbor Heroon, The View Is Jaw Dropping

Standing Atop The Harbor Heroon, The View Is Jaw Dropping

✔️ Have you been to Knidos? Then please head over to our Turkey Trip Planner to leave a review. Alternatively, if you plan on visiting, you can add the site to your bucket list.
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You’ll need to pay a small entrance fee to access the site.

Also, read these reviews on TripAdvisor to find out what others think of Knidos. If you still have questions, feel free to ask. You can send us a message through our contact page, or leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Consider touring the entire Datça peninsula, pop over to the Bodrum peninsula, or go wine-tasting at the Datça Vineyard. Alternatively, venture a bit further afield and explore the Bozburun peninsula or Marmaris.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

We still love to use Booking.com when searching for the perfect hotel or vacation rental in Turkey. Unfortunately, the website isn’t accessible from within Turkey without the use of a VPN. If you don’t have a VPN, and you’re already in Turkey, Hotels.com is a good alternative.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Getting to Knidos by car is easy, as the site is well-signposted from anywhere on the Datça peninsula. If you are relying on public transportation to get here, the Muğla province website mentions the timetables to and from the peninsula. To catch a dolmuş to Knidos, check the timetables here.

You’ll find the ferry from Bodrum to Datça service here.

When searching for flights, we like to use Skyscanner. It’s easy to use, and reliable. Find the best flights to Turkey and domestic flights that will take you all around the country here.

Do you prefer some good old road tripping? Once you get used to the unconventional driving style in Turkey, you’ll love to hit the road. After all, it’s all about the journey, and you may expect some very scenic rides! Renting a car in Turkey is easy. If you’re looking for an established car rental company that allows pick-up and drop-off at different airports, check out Europcar. They have offices all over Turkey.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

You’ll need to pay a small entrance fee to access the site.

Also, read these reviews on TripAdvisor to find out what others think of Knidos. If you still have questions, feel free to ask. You can send us a message through our contact page, or leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Consider touring the entire Datça peninsula, pop over to the Bodrum peninsula, or go wine-tasting at the Datça Vineyard. Alternatively, venture a bit further afield and explore the Bozburun peninsula or Marmaris.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

We still love to use Booking.com when searching for the perfect hotel or vacation rental in Turkey. Unfortunately, the website isn’t accessible from within Turkey without the use of a VPN. If you don’t have a VPN, and you’re already in Turkey, Hotels.com is a good alternative.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Getting to Knidos by car is easy, as the site is well-signposted from anywhere on the Datça peninsula. If you are relying on public transportation to get here, the Muğla province website mentions the timetables to and from the peninsula. To catch a dolmuş to Knidos, check the timetables here.

You’ll find the ferry from Bodrum to Datça service here.

When searching for flights, we like to use Skyscanner. It’s easy to use, and reliable. Find the best flights to Turkey and domestic flights that will take you all around the country here.

Do you prefer some good old road tripping? Once you get used to the unconventional driving style in Turkey, you’ll love to hit the road. After all, it’s all about the journey, and you may expect some very scenic rides! Renting a car in Turkey is easy. If you’re looking for an established car rental company that allows pick-up and drop-off at different airports, check out Europcar. They have offices all over Turkey.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Windswept Knidos: city of Love & Arabic graffiti
Windswept Knidos: city of Love & Arabic graffiti
Windswept Knidos: city of Love & Arabic graffiti
Windswept Knidos: city of Love & Arabic graffiti
Windswept Knidos: city of Love & Arabic graffiti

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Check the weather

Never wonder about the weather in Turkey again. The Turkish climate is as diverse as the country with significant differences between the regions.

This page contains the current weather and weather statistics for all regions in Turkey.

Prepare your trip

How to order a tourist visa for Turkey?

What about public transport?
Can you skip the line at Istanbul Airports?

General Turkey travel information, essential to help prepare your trip, on one page!

LISTS & REVIEWS

Bookmark your favorite places, find other destinations nearby, get directions from your location, and read or leave reviews.

Our Turkey Trip Planner wad designed to do just that. You'll find all our favorite spots in one place, including scenic road stops.

Map of Turkey

Do you like to see things on a map? On our interactive tourist map of Turkey, you'll spot nearby points of interest right away. We've done the heavy lifting for you. Just click on the icons to go to each post.

Enjoy our practical and inspirational map of Turkey!

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Windswept Knidos: city of Love & Arabic graffiti